How to frame a new economy – view from the UK

The case for a new economic system is strong, but narratives don't change overnight. We asked Dora Meade from NEON UK to share insights on how good narratives can help accelerate the shift to a new economic system, based on their ‘Framing the Economy’ report.


Together with NEF, FrameWorks Institute and PIRC, NEON (New Economy Organisers Network) has recently published a report called ‘Framing the Economy, which sets out how progressive forces can tell a new story to help accelerate the shift to a new economic system. For our IX New Paradigm Workshop, we asked their head of messaging, Dora Meade, to share some practical insights from the report with us, followed by a discussion with political economist and climate activist Tadzio Müller.

As Meade explained, the 2-year project identified three central elements of narrative development: forging a common agenda (defining a vision), understanding the audience, and mapping the gaps (to define opportunities for story telling). In the UK, where the ‘Framing the Economy’ project was undertaken, the researchers from NEON were able to identify that most people think of the economy as a ‘container’ that things go into, and flow out of. Thinking of the economy as a container resulted in a people being split into two opposing camps: takers and contributors. Additionally, it led to people to feel a sense of detachment from the workings of the economy which they thought should best be left to experts, or itself.

From these findings, NEON and their partners were able to identify a number of priorities for narrative development. Firstly, rather than talking about the economy in an abstract sense, it is more important to emphasize the conditions it is creating for every member of society. Secondly, rather than leading messaging with what’s wrong in the world, progressive narratives should first lead with the value of interdependence – the idea, that we all rely on each other in a collective manner under the umbrella of socioeconomic activity.

Tadzio Müller added that a narrative is only as powerful as the set of practices connected to it. Especially climate change and inequality narratives to date lack appealing narratives that can spark political action against the hard to convey context of economic boundaries and global economic debt.

The whole session as recap

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